Arsenal steal last-gasp Anfield win; Chelsea continue to stutter
Arsenal were the big winners of the day as they saw a three-point lead extend over Chelsea in the race for fourth spot. The Gunners’ talisman, Robin Van Persie, scored a brace to sink a Liverpool side who had countless efforts to put the match to bed after they went ahead through a cheap own-goal from Laurent Koscielny. The most notable of these chances was a squandered penalty from the usually reliable Dirk Kuyt, which produced a classy double-save from Wojciech Szczęsny and a horrendous miss from Martin Kelly in which he managed to scuff his shot wide from a mere two yards out.
Chelsea, on the other hand, were looking like a dilapidated team as they were beaten in an ostensibly easy fixture against Roy Hodgson’s West Brom. A late Gareth McAuley strike sent the Hawthorns into raptures as West Brom continued a great run of form under the expert guidance of Hodgson. Chelsea’s manager was left in a much more precarious position; Villas-Boas’ future was in clear doubt as he trembled on towards the Champions League match against Napoli, which could be the decider in whether or not Roman Abramovich will let his young Portuguese manager go.
In other matches, Man City increased their lead at the top of the table with a comfortable 2-0 win over Bolton; in the post-match interview Roberto Mancini confirmed that Balotelli will be reprimanded if found guilty over allegations that he was at a strip club into the early hours of Saturday morning. Stoke beat Norwich 1-0 through a Matthew Etherington goal whilst QPR and Everton played out a 1-1 draw in which a superb Royston Drenthe goal was cancelled out by a Bobby Zamora strike. Steve Kean’s Blackburn salvaged a point through an 85th-minute David Dunn goal in their 1-1 draw with Aston Villa; and lastly Roberto Martínez came under renewed pressure as his side were beaten comfortably by an impressive Swansea outfit.